Using Amex abroad: Guide to fees and charges

If you're planning on using your American Express card abroad to keep earning all those juicy rewards, you'll also want to be aware of the possible costs.

If you carry an Amex, the more you shop with it, the merrier – so you surely want to bring it overseas with you and use it for your purchases. But how much will you be charged in fees and what should you be aware of?

  1. Non-sterling transaction fees

    Amex converts all foreign currency transactions into US dollars first, and then into pounds. Amex has its own conversion rate – slightly different from Mastercard’s and Visa’s, but the gap usually isn’t huge. Moreover, Amex charges a 2.99% fee for all non-sterling transactions, which will be added to the conversion rate.

  2. Merchant currency conversion fees (DCC)

    When you purchase something abroad using your card, you’re often asked whether you want to pay in the local currency or in pounds. As a rule of thumb, it’s usually better to pick the local currency, and trust your credit card to handle the conversion. Merchant exchange rates are often terrible and there may be extra fees you aren’t aware of – instead, at least you’ll know from the start how much you’ll be charged by Amex.

  3. Cash advance fees

    Generally speaking, withdrawing cash with a credit card isn’t the brightest idea. Most cards will charge you an extra fee, and cash advances usually aren’t granted any interest-free periods. The amount you withdraw will start accruing interest immediately until you clear the debt. Amex is no exception on this. It charges a 3% or £3 fee (whichever the greatest) on your cash withdrawals, which is to be added to the non-sterling transaction fee. It also says it “will charge interest on all balances that result from cash advances from the date the cash advance is applied to your account irrespective of whether you pay the balance in full”.

  4. Credit card surcharges

    Credit card surcharges have become rarer in Europe, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they do still exist in some countries – merchants may automatically charge you an extra fee for paying with a credit card (and they might not let you know that they’re doing it). If in doubt, ask before deciding how you want to pay.

EU ban on credit card surcharges

In January 2018 the EU required member states to adopt the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2). The PSD2 is a ban on card payment surcharges – that’s when a retailer adds a fee because you’re paying using a credit card. However, it’s important to note that there are limitations and exceptions to this rule and there are other fees that may apply when you pay by credit card. If your card is from a non-EU bank, uses a network other than Visa or Mastercard or is a business/corporate card, then the merchant may still levy a surcharge.

American Express foreign transaction fees

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
British Airways American Express Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% APR (variable)
Go to site
New Cardmember offer: Earn 5,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% APR (variable)
Go to site
New Cardmember offer: Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £100) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership. Cashback earn rates will change from the 4 August.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
American Express Rewards Credit Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
As a new Cardmember, earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
The American Express Nectar Credit Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum
27.3% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
As a new Cardmember, earn 20,000 bonus Nectar points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum, your representative rate is 27.3% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£25 per annum
27.3% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
As a new Cardmember, get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership. Cashback earn rates will change from the 4 August.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £25 per annum, your representative rate is 27.3% APR (variable).
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Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
American Express Platinum Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
£595 p.a.
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Go to site
New Cardmember offer: Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £6,000 in first 3 months of Cardmembership. Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every £1 spent thereafter.
American Express Gold Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £175
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Go to site
New Cardmember offer: Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in first 3 months of Cardmembership. Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every £1 spent thereafter. Earn 10,000 extra Membership Rewards® points when you spend £20,000 per quarter.
Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
2.99%
2.99%
21.9%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £50 per annum
32.6% APR (variable)
Go to site
Earn 2% Amazon Rewards on the first £120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Business UK and Whole Foods Market UK, or 90 day extended payment terms on such purchases. Earn 0.5% Amazon Rewards on all other purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £50 per annum, your representative rate is 32.6% APR (variable).
Amazon Business American Express Card
2.99%
2.99%
21.9%
£50 per annum (first year waived – limited offer)
32.6% APR (variable)
Go to site
Earn 1.5% Amazon Rewards on the first £120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Business UK and Whole Foods Market UK, or 60 day extended payment terms on such purchases. Earn 0.5% Amazon Rewards on all other purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £50 per annum, your representative rate is 32.6% APR (variable).
British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£210 per annum
80.3% APR (variable)
Go to site
Earn 1.5 On Business Points for every £1 spent with BA on eligible flights and 1.5 Avios for every eligible £1 spent on credit card. Earn an extra 3,000 On Business Points annually when £20K or more spent by card anniversary.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £210 per annum, your representative rate is 80.3% APR (variable).
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What about alternatives to American Express?

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first

If the Amex card you have (or are considering) isn’t great for overseas use, you may opt to switch to an alternative credit card, or even to take out a second card that you only use when you’re out of the country. Here are some cards with favourable overseas spending terms.

Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
The Royal Bank Credit Card (existing customers only)
0%
0%
12.9%
£0
12.9% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Credit Card (existing customers only)
0%
0%
12.9%
£0
12.9% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
Santander All in One Credit Card
0%
0%
0% for 20 months reverting to 17.9%
£3 per month
23.7% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
0.5% cashback after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid monthly into card account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).
Ulster Bank Credit Card Mastercard
0%
0%
12.9%
£0
12.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
Halifax Clarity Credit Card Mastercard
0%
0%
19.93%
£0
19.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.93% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
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Some digital banks including Curve and Revolut offer alternative ways to get around fees when paying with plastic abroad.

With Curve, for example, you can control multiple cards from your Curve card and app, and even if your card issuer charges exchange fees, Curve will convert the currency for you at the standard Mastercard exchange rate. Just be aware that restrictions and limitations do apply – you can read our full guide to find out more.

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